How to Overcome Withdrawal From Pain Pills

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Withdrawing from pain pills can be very similar to withdrawal from the street drug heroin. Most painkillers are members of the opiate family and chemically similar to heroin. Stopping the use of pain pills such as morphine, oxycodone and hydrocodone after several weeks of use can cause a number of painful physical and emotional symptoms. This applies whether the medication was used as prescribed or misused. Vomiting, diarrhea, insomnia, anxiety, sweating and severe abdominal cramping are all possible when withdrawing from pain pills.

Things You'll Need

  • Prescription medications issued by your doctor
  • Over-the-counter stomach discomfort remedies as needed
  • Make an appointment to visit your doctor. Even if you misused your pain pills, your doctor will rarely call the authorities unless a theft of prescription pad or other forgery was involved. If you do not want to see your doctor or do not have one, you can visit a local emergency room or health clinic.

  • Take any prescription remedies as directed. Possible drugs used to alleviate the symptoms of pain pill withdrawal include methadone, clonidine and buprenorphine. Those with severe vomiting and/or diarrhea can use over-the-counter drugs such as liquid bismuth subsalicylate or receive a prescription remedy from a doctor.

  • Have a thorough psychological evaluation performed by your doctor or another medical professional if depression or another mental illness may be a factor. Untreated depression can lead people to go back to pain pills even after a successful withdrawal.

  • Attend a support group such as Narcotics Anonymous or SMART Recovery if you abused your pain pills. Although these groups do not dispense medical or psychological advice, support of others who have had similar problems may help you stay off painkillers.

  • Enroll in an inpatient or outpatient treatment program if you were abusing your painkillers and are having a hard time in withdrawal.

  • Consider entering psychotherapy if you are not already involved. This emotional support is recommended by the Mayo Clinic as another aid to withdrawal from pain pills.

Tips & Warnings

  • Remember that pain pill withdrawal itself is not fatal. However, severe vomiting and/or diarrhea can cause potentially fatal electrolyte imbalances or choking.
  • Do not quit any recommended medical treatment, whether a prescription remedy or counseling program, without your doctor's approval. It may be tempting to stop treatment once physical withdrawal ends, but doing so without medical supervision can cause even further health problems.

References

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